training-program-management-for-small-department

Training program management is one of the most difficult tasks in a fire department. In Monday afternoon’s “Training Program Management for Small Departments” workshop, Chief Devon Wells (Hood River (OR) Fire & EMS) discussed the common difficulties in delivering training to small departments, mainly combination and all-volunteer agencies. He presented training calendar ideas, record management, originating unique ideas for annual training, and using technology in training. He also covered developing and implementing a regional recruit training academy that works well for all-volunteer organizations. Wells reviewed the common problems training officers and program managers face and discussed solutions and “out of the box” ideas.

Wells shared with students his department’s weekly training schedule in which each day’s training focuses on one area. “Mandate Mondays” focus on training mandates, “Tactical Tuesdays” concentrate on tactical training, and “Wounded Wednesdays” are devoted to medical training. Preplanning and district familiarization occur on “Think It Through Thursdays,” while line of duty deaths and near misses are reviewed on “Frightening Fridays.” On “Scenario Saturdays,” fire scene photos are reviewed. A discussion follows on strategy and tactics, centering on the question, “If this happened in our district, how would we fight the fire?” Finally, “SOG Safety Sunday” training focuses on standard operating guidelines and safety.

Training must be consistent, valuable, and interesting, Wells said. Think of ways to involve everyone in the training, including the instruction. Allow members of the department to plan training that they are interested in. Give guidance and ensure quality and let them run with their ideas. Departments should look around their jurisdictions and anticipate what types of special incidents to which they could be called to respond. Wells said that in his response area, outdoor sports such as wind surfing are popular.

Technology in the form of webinars, podcasts, and online training can enhance and supplement your program, according to Wells. The iPad offers a world of possibilities for fire training delivery and management, and is already used in fire inspection.
A 19-year fire service veteran, Wells is a western regional director for the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) and is an alternate on the NW Type 2 Incident Management Team as a division supervisor and structural protection specialist.


Wells has taught at FDIC for three years, and wrote the article “Applying LCES to All-Hazard Incidents” (Fire Engineering, February 2010).

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